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Where Will You Spend Eternity?

Jesus Christ made it very clear that a person’s relationship with God in this present life will determine his destiny in the life to come (Matthew 19:16-26; 7:13-23).

In a parable on the last judgment in Matthew 25:31ff, Jesus brought out this truth clearly. He concluded His parable saying, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46).

Jesus has power over life and death because He rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:4). “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom. 14:9). He is the very embodiment of God’s living power, conquering death and raising the dead (2 Cor. 13:4). Jesus alone gives eternal life.

Moreover, Jesus said the most sobering thing about man’s eternal destiny. Hell is the destiny of those who refuse Him. Heaven is the destiny of those who believe in Him.

Jesus not only gives eternal life; He is eternal life (1 Jn. 5:20; Jn. 11:25-26; Rom. 5:12ff; 1 Cor. 15:20ff; Gal. 2:16, 20; Phil. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:10). 

The life Christ gives is not confined to this life, but points to eternal life when the last enemy, death, is vanquished forever (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Rom. 6:22; Gal. 6:8; Rev. 21:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). We will be with Christ forever (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). This life that God gives is received by faith in His Son (1 J. 5:12). 

The frightening thing is there is no escape from God’s judgment for eternity. The consequences of neglecting or rejecting God’s gift of life are tragic. It is plain from God’s Word that sin will be punished (Matt. 10:15; Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; Rom. 5:12-21). No one will be exempt. The message of the Bible is clear that there is never any indication that the punishment of sin ever ceases.

The duration of the punishment will be the same as the gift of life. It is a never-ending “age to come.” Jesus said, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). A little later He said, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46). The apostle Paul gave the same emphasis when he wrote, “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9).

The eternity of God is not a limited duration. It is important that the same adjective is used for eternal punishment as is for eternal life (Matt. 25:46). The punishment is no more limited than the gift of life.

Jesus spoke of hell more often than did anyone else in the New Testament. He was not mean; He dealt with reality and truth. Nowhere in the Bible is there a hint of any possible reversal of the last judgment. There is no second chance after you die physically.

Jesus said “hell” is “unquenchable fire” (Mk. 9:43; Lk. 3:17); “hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:47-48). God “has power to cast into hell” (Lk. 12:5), and there is a sin that “will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32). Eternal punishment is also described as “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12), and an impossible gulf (Lk. 16:26).

Jesus used vivid imagery to teach the terrible consequence of rejecting God’s offer of eternal life. He described the grim reality of punishment as “the hell of fire” (Matt. 5:22), “the unquenchable fire” (Mk. 9:43), “the outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12), “the worm that does not die” (Mk. 9:48), weeping and gnashing of teeth (Lk. 13:28), “the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:29), “being sentenced to hell” (Matt. 23:33), “beaten with many stripes” (Lk. 12:47), “lost” (Matt. 10:6).

The Bible speaks of a continuing punishment of sin without end. Nowhere does it speak of an end to the punishment of sin. There is no indication that the punishment of sin ever ceases.

However, in the light of the cross of Jesus Christ we can be sure that the mercy of God reaches as far as mercy can reach. God does all that can be done for man’s salvation in the death of Jesus Christ. The good news is Jesus died for our sins on the cross. He was separated from God because He became sin on our behalf and paid our penalty (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ removed our sin so that you and I do not have to be punished. He bore our punishment.

The grim reality of our personal choices must be faced honestly. The ultimate of the sinner is eternal punishment unless he puts his faith in Jesus Christ as his only hope of eternal life. If your heart is convicted with this study, I plead with you to respond to the pleading of the Holy Spirit right now and repent and believe on Jesus Christ as your Savior. There is no other choice, and neutral you cannot be.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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